Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Review: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Title: Best Served Cold
Author: Joe Abercrombie
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Gollanz
Publishing Date: 1 June 2009
Hardcover: 544 pages


Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the Butcher of Caprile, was the best mercenary, the best general that Grand Duke Orso had employed. But Monza and her brother had become a little bit too popular to Orso's taste. Feeling threatened, he decided to kill them. But if you try to kill someone like Monza, you'd better make sure that she's dead.

Don't Judge A Book By It But...

This cover art is proof enough that we don't have to use lone capped figures to create an attractive cover. I kinda like the fact that it has similar traits with the covers of The First Law trilogy. Furthermore, the hardback cover is very beautiful when it's unfolded.


In a recent interview, when he was asked about how he wanted his readers to feel after reading his books, Joe Abercrombie said:

"I'd like them to feel they've been entertained – thrilled, amused, tantalized, titillated, surprised, or some combination of the above... I'd like them to feel they've met some vivid, interesting, unusual characters, and that those people will stick with them for some time to come... Above all, of course, I'd like people to shut my book with a burning need to pick up the next one..."

Well... I must admit that he succeeds in all of the above with Best Served Cold.

In his latest dark fantasy book, Abercrombie welcomes us back into a world where mercy and cowardice are the same and a world that is familiar to those who have read his The First Law trilogy. Mentions of Tul Duru, Bethod, Black Dow, the Dogman and Ninefingers bring back memories about other great stories from the same world.

When I started to read the book, the first thing I told myself was about the protagonists. They were so alive, I wanted to read more just to be with them. They felt real, they even talked real as Abercrombie makes his characters talk like real individuals. They react, have sex, urinate, curse and insult like real people, which contribute to the overall atmosphere of the book. Furthermore, the protagonists are multifaceted so one is not confronted with only good or only evil characters. It's also a real pleasure to read their dialogues. Throughout the book, I had them pictured clearly in my mind. The martial wisdom scattered throughout the book, the protagonists' own humour, their sarcasm and their personal struggles add much color to the story.

Best Served Cold is a fast-pacing book. From the start, it cruises pretty much constantly at 6th gear. The scenes, especially the action scenes are very captivating. They are so vivid, they go through you like hot iron. More than once, I found myself reading with all muscles clenched.

In this era of multitudes of series, it is also a blessing to read a great standalone. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to read more books written in this world. However, it's nice not to have to wait for future instalments to read the end of the story. It is also a welcoming change to read about a female main protagonist.

Best Served Cold tops the list of best fantasy books that I read in 2009. With it, Joe Abercrombie confirms his place as one of my favourite authors. I'll follow his pen anywhere...

Rating: 10/10


"I have been many things. A student. A messenger. A thief. A soldier in old wars. A servant of great powers. An actor in great events. Now? Now, it seems, I am a man who settles other people's scores." - Shenkt

It was truly hard to choose a single quote among so many good ones. For more quotes check my earlier post.

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